Leaving aside the rather childish retort at the end, there are some flaws in this common line of thinking that I’d like to address.


It basically starts from the belief that an electoral mandate legitimises all legislative actions by the government.

It doesn’t. First, we have anti- defection laws and limited scope for MPs to vote against the party position on anything.

Second, consultation and convincing stakeholders (ideally prior to enacting the laws) is an important part of the any legislative process which should never be skipped or bulldozed, no matter what the majority is.

Third, there is a reason for centre/state divisions of legislative power. Farm laws fall in the state list and not the union list- state govts are in a better place to engage with and understand the concern of a wider range of the farming community.

Fourth, needless to say, bills like this should never have been passed by a voice vote in the RS.

The belief that the only recourse in a democracy is the ballot isn’t correct. Registering protest is one very legitimate way of letting the government know of your concerns. And when a law has been bulldozed through as this one has, it’s the only one left.
Perhaps before sitting in judgment on the legitimacy of any protests, it’s useful to ask the questions, why are they on the street? were the stakeholders heard before these laws were enacted? Were their concerns discussed?

In a well functioning democracy people (even an electoral minority) doesn’t have to take to the streets to be heard. If they’re on the streets, try asking why our democracy isn’t functioning as it should.


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More from @sarayupani

30 Dec
Looking at the stories coming out of China, it’s increasingly clear that we were rather shortsighted in 1999 in fighting to keep labour standards out of the mandate of the WTO.

A thread
In 1996, in the inaugural WTO ministerial in Singapore the US tried to introduce what would be called a “social clause” in multilateral trade agreements. This would make certain labour standards mandatory in all member countries.

The motion failed in Singapore. It was defeated mostly by developing countries who saw it as a means to negate their low cost labour advantage. They argued it amounted to using labour standards as a form of protectionism.

(An understandable argument at the time.)

Read 17 tweets
12 Dec
Ok, quick question: how many people rely on the PDS today? 67% of our population - that’s right. Over 900 million people. Anything that affects this is pretty terrifying, right?

Read on

(Remember that in addition to the PDS, all of us rely on some sort of price control over food. That’s why we are all conditioned to protest to the government about rising onion prices.)

But how exactly does the government manage the PDS and control prices?

First, procurement and MSP. Originally, this covered only rice and wheat - this now covers a series of other food crops, including pulses and oils. The state procures specified produce at a “minimum support price” announced at the beginning of each season.

Read 22 tweets
12 Dec
Ok, out of curiosity (and nerdiness) I looked at 2014 NCRB data. That's just a year picked randomly (within the years looked at in the Ravi paper).

The NCRB does do the sensible thing, and further breaks down farmer suicides into sub categories

Poverty, illness, marriage related issues (I'm assuming this includes dowry harassment), family problems, farming issues including crop failure, indebtedness, fall in social reputation, alcohol abuse and other causes.
Economic distress manifests in different ways. The last straw for different farmers killing themselves might be different - illness without the option to stop working, family harassment, alcohol addiction, fall in social reputation, indebtedness, crop failure etc

Read 4 tweets
12 Dec
Ok, I actually read the paper and maybe I missed it but it doesn’t seem to ask the question of what % of these housewives come from farming households.

How do you build this entire argument without addressing that?
Housewives certainly do an incredible amount of work, but it’s unpaid. So analysing them as a seperate occupation without looking at their source of family income (I.e. what does the breadwinner do?) seems like a pretty big omission here?
She goes on to talk about the leading reasons for suicide as “family problems” and “illness” but completely refuses to engage with the fact that both of these factors can be and often are linked to a lack of economic well-being.

So puzzling!
Read 5 tweets
12 Dec
In 2019, a law firm that worked for Adani Australia faced investigation by the Australian legal services commission for saying they will use the legal system to "wage war" on people threatening Adani- it was termed the "trained attack dog strategy"

Since then, their lawyers in Australia have hounded activists, with legal charge after legal charge to the point of bankruptcy.

They've tried to barge into activists homes

Read 4 tweets
12 Dec
So basically now tweeting against Adani and/or coal is also an attempt to destabilise the country? And the government should intervene?

Terrifying stuff. They're literally calling a tweet-storm a plan by "outside forces"

Also, if they're convinced a cyber crime has been committed, shouldn't they should file an FIR? Why are they writing to the union government?
I mean, how do you say "look, people on twitter are falsely calling us crony capitalists" and then immediately urge the government to treat an attack on your company as an attack on the stability of the state??
Read 4 tweets

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